Job Search Tips

Why you don’t need to meet every qualification when applying for a job

Written by Eric Titner

Regardless of industry or experience level, today’s job seekers have one thing in common—they’re facing a tremendously challenging job market when they’re on the hunt for their next opportunity. On top of an ever-shifting wave of technological innovation that’s shattering the old rules of job hunting and causing seismic shifts in how we pursue the next steps in our career ladders, the ways that companies are sourcing resources and meeting their staffing needs are evolving.

The days where everyone pursues a full-time position with benefits are dwindling and being replaced by an expanding gig economy, in which employees craft “a la carte” workloads of various projects from varying employers and companies who hire on a freelance or contract basis. On top of this, the competition for available work continues to get more intense, which means that at least one old maxim for finding success in the work world still holds: if you want to land your next great job, you’re going to have to be at your absolute best when going through the application and hiring process.

Okay, so by now we’ve established that today’s job market is a shifting and tricky thing, and you’re going to need to bring your A-game in order to be successful. That said, why do so many job seekers do just the opposite by working against their best interests when on the job hunt? It’s true. A curious thing happens to many job seekers when they’re searching for their next great jobs: they often come across positions that they feel would be absolutely perfect for them—except for one small detail—and they talk themselves out of even applying for fear of not meeting the employer’s minimum expectations for qualified candidates. It’s a sad reality and keeps many folks who would probably perform wonderfully if given the opportunity from ever having the opportunity to test themselves and test their capabilities.

This often comes in the form of one glaring qualification listed in a job ad, which they currently don’t have, that sends a shockwave of anxiety and panic through applicants. They convince themselves that there’s absolutely no way they’ll be taken seriously as a candidate because of this deficit, and sadly move on. This phenomenon hits entry- and lower-level applicants who typically have less on-the-job skill-building experience extra hard, but it’s a bad move for everyone, regardless of level.

The truth is, talking yourself out of growth opportunities can adversely affect your entire career trajectory. Historically, a key point of moving on to a new position is to test yourself with new challenges, to allow yourself to build new skills, and to grow and evolve as a professional. After all, it would get quite boring if you only considered jobs that allow you to do things you already know how to do, without any hope of learning something new.

Furthermore, seasoned hiring professionals don’t (or at least shouldn’t) have expectations of finding absolute perfection when hiring—they often make decisions based on which candidates would fit well within their existing cultures and who seem as if they’d be enjoyable to work with and willing to learn. They’re likely not looking for or expecting to find a candidate who knows absolutely everything, so you shouldn’t let the idea that you’re not 100% perfect intimidate you out of at least trying.

Have you ever heard the old adage “fake it until you make it”? It’s a basic truth that reflects a well-worn approach to jobs—it’s okay to not know something and quietly keep that under wraps, provided you make every effort to get up to speed as soon as possible. And once you do, you can relax into your new position and do your job with confidence, all the while secretly glad you didn’t let it keep you from applying.

If you’re on the job hunt trail and wondering how closely your qualifications need to align with job postings, the answer is “close enough can be good enough.” Adherence to the Qualifications section of a job ad varies from company to company, but not having every single bullet point covered should never stop you from giving it a shot and going for it. Good luck!

About the author

Eric Titner

Eric is a NYC-based editor and writer, with years of experience in career-focused content development across a wide range of industries.